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January 17, 2023Laredo, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Smuggler admits to conspiracy resulting in 2 deaths following HSI Laredo, federal partner investigation

LAREDO, Texas — A 34-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic pleaded guilty to transporting noncitizens within the United States resulting in two deaths following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Border Patrol, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Wilkin Perez-Perez, pleaded guilty before a federal judge for his role in a human smuggling event.

According to court documents, Melvin L. Barahona-Godoy, 27, of Guatemala, and Yoryi Alexis Perez, 33, of the Dominican Republic, led several people to the Rio Grande River, Sept. 21, 2017. Two noncitizens drowned while trying to cross the river into the U.S.; their bodies were discovered along the riverbank. The investigation led to Perez-Perez, who had returned to the Dominican Republic. He oversaw the U.S. branch of the organization and had coordinated the noncitizens’ transportation into the U.S. Perez-Perez had also harbored them in Laredo, which led to their deaths. Authorities ultimately apprehended him, and he was later extradited to the United States.

Perez-Perez will remain in custody pending a hearing.

Godoy and Yoryi Alexis Perez were also charged in relation to the transportation and harboring of the men and others. They have since been convicted and sentenced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Scott Bowling, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

For additional information about HSI’s investigative efforts, follow @HSI_SanAntonio.

HSI San Antonio continues to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit. To report suspicious smuggling activity, call 866-347-2423.

HSI, a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 01/17/2023